this model. i just love engining. but i never knew -- i've taken engines apart, but i've never seen the inside of an engine because i have to, like, saw it in half, and it's made out of, like, you know, iron, right in but now by making it on my makerbot, i got to see all of the different places where all the cool ant goes and how they keep that separate from the oil. getting a makerbot is also an education in how things are made in the manufacturing process and in the world around us. >> host: are you the inventer? >> guest: you can blame me. [laughter] where did you come up with the idea? >> guest: you know, 3-d printers have been around for about 25 years, but they were mainframe-size machines that were really expensive. i wanted one. but i couldn't afford one. so some friends and i got together, and we started tinkering. and when it worked, we quit our jobs and started makerbot so everybody could have one of these. >> host: bre pettis is the
founder of makerbot and the ceo of the makerbot corporation out of brooklyn, new york, one of the ottest products on -- hottest products here on the floor of ces. [inaudible conversations] >> host: and you've been watching "the communicators" on c-span from las vegas and ces international 2013, the technology show. we will be back next week with more programming from this con convention. >> david maraniss began researching and writing his tenth book "barack obama: the story" in 2009. he traveled around the world in the his research including trips to to kenya, indonesia, hawaii, kansas and chicago. booktv documented the kenya trip with the author. next, david maraniss sits down with booktv to discuss his book. we show you extensive video from
his trips throughout the program. this portion of the program is about an hour and a half. >> author david maraniss has been researching and writing his tenth book, "barack obama: the story." for this project "the washington post" associate editor and pulitzer prize winner traveled across the world to kansas, indonesia, kenya, hawaii, new york and chicago. david maraniss spoke with relatives of president obama in kenya and discovered the president's african ancestral history. he toured the houses where young barack obama lived in indonesia and found the kansas family homes and sites where his mother's family began. and for the next few hours, david maraniss joins booktv to discuss his latest book "barack obama: the story." and then to take your calls, e-mails and tweets. >> host: david maraniss, you write in "barack obama: the
story" that no life could have been or more the product of randomness than that of barack obama. >> guest: well, it's the whole world coming together accidentally in 1960. a father who happens to come there from kenya pause he reads a story in the saturday evening post that describes the university of hawaii as a great place because of its diversity and a mother or who gets there because she has a father who has this wanderlust, is never satisfied wherever he is, and he ends up in hawaii selling furniture. and then they meet in a russian class, and can here comes barack obama who emerges as a whole global random existence of his own until he becomes president of the united states. >> host: where did their lives begin in kansas? >> guest: well, in a county called butler county is where obama's grandmother grew up and grandfather. madeleine payne and stanley dunham, but i start the story in
topeka which is the state capital because stanley's parents lived there for a short time. his father, the president's great grandfather, was an auto repairman up there, and the great grandmother, ruth armor dunham, was -- got married at age 15, had a very difficult marriage, and the book begins with her suicide in toe topeka. and then young stanley, the president's grandfather, comes back to el dorado in butler county, and that's where he meets the grandmother and where the story begins. it wouldn't have happened without that suicide. >> host: well, we want to show you just a little video montage shot by your wife linda on your trip to kansas in april 2009. >> guest: we're driving down kansas route 177 through the heart of the foothills of kansas. we're heading for north central
kansas and then south central kansas. >> and the tiny town of el dorado. >> where barack obama's grandfather, stanley, grew up. the town of augusta, kansas, where -- [inaudible] obama's grandmother was born and grew up. >> 2009, heading down to el dorado on easter sunday. >> 2009, we are in topeka, kansas, the capital city of kansas, and the scene of a tragedy in the obama story. it's where his great grandmother committed suicide, um, and stan dunham, obama's grandfather, was with 8 years old at the time
that his mother, obama's yeah great grandmother, died. today lived in a little house here on buchanan street down a few blocks, and the great grandfather, ralph dunham, ran a garage and auto shop. it's sixth avenue which is right around the corner, and that's where she took some strychnine and was found dead on the night of thanksgiving 1926. >> could you drive a little slower? >> i sure or can. we're now approaching the house, 703 buchanan. >> [inaudible] >> little white two-of story shotgun house, no more than 10 feet white. one house from the corner of seventh and buchanan.
little front porch. i'm sure it's the same house as in 1926, although -- this is where she died, inside those walls. >> [inaudible] >> the garage where the -- [inaudible] >> alleyway could have been -- [inaudible] because that brick is old. >> host: david maraniss, how old was she when she killed herself? >> guest: she was 26. she was born in 1900.
>> host: and why'd she kill herself? >> guest: she killed herself because of her -- well, what we know is that she left a suicide note that said that she was distraught over her husband's philandering. so that was the immediate cause. >> host: and that was the president's grandfather, stanley dunham's mother. >> guest: yes. ruth armor dunham. she lived only to be 6. and because of that -- 26. because of that traumatic event, stanley and his older brother ralph moved back down to el dorado with ruth or armor dunham's parents, so living with his parents, and his great grandfather, a character named christopher columbus clark who had fought in the civil war. >> host: where did stanley and madeleine, the grandparents, meet? >> guest: they met in augusta, both in butler county. it's sort of on the way to wichita, and that's where madeleine grew up. stan had already been out of
high school for several years, madeleine was a senior in high school. and he was of working, um, in construction in a renovation of an oil plant down there, and that's where he met her. >> guest: what was their life like in kansas? >> host: their life before today married or after they married? >> guest: after they married or before? >> host: after they married. >> guest: her parents didn't really like him. matter of fact, the first thing her far said was i don't want you marrying that wop. he was dark-skinned, so sort of an element of race even in that. and she married him secretly before she graduated from high school. she was a very smart young woman who had always opinion -- been on the honor role physical she met stanley who was slick-haired and slick-talking and promised to get her out of arkansas -- i mean, out of kansas, i'm sorry. and that's what she wanted. she'd grown up loving bette davis and the sophistication of
hood, and here she was stuck in this small town, and stan promised something else. he'd already been to california, he promised to take her back there. their lives, no, to answer your question directly, were somewhat unstable. not that their marriage was necessarily unstable, but his jobs were always unstable, and they never knew where they were going next. so it was a rocky road. >> host: on the kenya side of the family, where did the obama clan begin? >> guest: the obama clan began, actually, in sudan several hundred years ago, but i start the story in the small village by lake victoria to the south and east of the major city out there if what we call luo land. it's a very poor part of kenya. it's where the luo tribe is
basically sectored, and then the large tribe is the kikuyu, and that's where the obamas found themselves. >> host: on the president's paternal side, who are his grandparents? >> guest: his grandfather was hussein anyango who was born in the late 1800s and was the first, in the first wave of luo to be western eased. he was -- westernized. he was the seventh-day add venntists had come out, so, actually, his name was onyango at that point. learned english from the seventh-day add venntists and in other ways became inculcated into the british culture, british colony, so he worked later as a chef, a cook for many british military people and folks in nairobi. and can the mother was a woman
who came from another village in that area, um, and she did not -- hussein onyango was a very difficult man to live with. he beat his wives, he had several wives which was part of the culture, and when he moved from the area near where she grew up and moved back to another homestead of the obama clan around the bay of lake victoria, she'd had enough. he had a new, younger wife along with him then, and so she wrap wrap -- she ran away. so she left the family when barack obama, the president's father, whose name was also barack hussein obama, was a very little boy. >> host: david maraniss, his grandparents in kenya died in 1979 and 2006. did president obama ever meet
them? >> guest: no. he never met his kenyan grandparents. he got there in the 1980s after his grandfather had died. he only met his own father -- i mean, aside from the very, very early days of his birth, once in his life, but he didn't get back to keep ya until both of his -- kenya until both of his grandparents are gone. >> host: for barack obama: the story, how many interviews did you do over the course of the last four years? >> guest: i would say that almost 400, and i had a wonderful assistant, gabriel banks, who helped with some of the later interviews and specific parts of the story. but i traveled all around the world, and, um, so i interviewed everybody i could find in every part of the life of the president obama, of his parents and of his grandparents. >> host: barack obama sr. was born in 1936. what was his childhood look?
>> guest: well, he, um, from a fairly early age, um, was dealing with western culture and the british. um, he was a very smart kid. his father was difficult to get along with and not often there, mostly nairobi, and barack was growing up elsewhere. he was in the sense that, two senses. one was that he was smart enough to get into a very, the only really good school in that area, and although he never totally finished there, he was a very smart student. and, you know, he had that sort of clash of old and new that almost every one of his generation had to deal with. for all of his youth and adolescence, he was living in a colonial country in a very poor part of kenya, so, you know, he
lived in mud huts and with tealing with goats and -- dealing with goats and cowses and no it's -- no television or anything like that. almost a, you know, a century behind in some ways. and yet kenya was starting to emerge during all of his youth, you know? the rebellion was beginning, the push for independence was beginning and westernization was taking hold in so many different ways, and he was part of that. so he he straddled two very different worlds. ..
because barack seen had spent much of his career in nairobi. and then after several days we drove from nairobi across the national highway, all the way up west, one of the most unforgettable drives. the experiences were so different than nairobi. so the point was twofold. was defined as many people to interview them. i have the help of a wonderful researcher named kenneth, who is a great young journalist in nairobi. and he and i have been working on different aspects of getting information for many months before we got there. we were incredibly lucky to also have a translator, who i'd met
in the united states. he happened to be in kenya than, and a driver who had driven for the "washington post." >> host: how many interviews did you do? >> guest: i ended up doing about 45. most of them during those two weeks, a few of them over the phone later, and a few of them where people were not available so i provided the questions. >> host: booktv traveled with you to kenya and conducted an interview there as well. we want to show you that now. >> its january 15, 2010, we have been in western kenya now for about two days. you're working on your new book, out of this world, the making of barack obama, correct? >> yes. >> has it been worth it? >> i would say that these days
are the sorts it is a reminder why i do what i do. everything about it from morning to night, just energizes me. even when i get tired of doing interviews. but the notion that this is, this is the reality behind so many sort of things that you think you know but you don't really know. and it's when i go out and really see vibrant life and things that i never get to see a my lifetime any other way because of what i do. but i just think wow, i am so lucky. and in these last few days, i have traveled around this part of western kenya, based in kisumu, which is kind of the capital of this part of the country, and it's sort of informally called -- the main tried out here, the tribe from which barack obama family came.
we drove from kisumu down to a little town where we interviewed barack obama's only living paternal aunt. the sister of barack obama, sr., living in a small mud floored one room house back in the back streets of this tiny village, with only a couple of couches their, and about five, six pictures and a few calendars on the wall, and most of them related to the president of united states. and to think that this woman, you can't go any further into the middle of nowhere from the western world to this small village in africa and to think that the brother of this woman is the president of the united
states is kind of mind-boggling, awesome, and revelatory. so that is how we started today. and then from there we interviewed three other members of the obama clan in they can do they area around lake victoria, all of who told stories that you could never get from anywhere else about obama's grandfather, all young go obama. as father barack obama, sr., we walked through the compound of the obama clan down there. and saw the great sites of his great-grandfather, a person from whom the obama name derives. just kind of amazing stuff all day. >> you spent a lot of time in your interviews talking about the situation in kenya. what importance does that have
to your book? >> it explains a lot about barack obama, sr. and this book is more than just a biography barack obama who became president of the united states. it's about the places that created him, the people who created him, starting two generations back and moving to obama himself. and his father, in some ways, represented the promise and the frustrations of africa, and of kenya. and on a more personal level, on his brilliance and flaws. and some of that had to do with the tribe. they are the second largest tribe in kenya. the colonial period when the british dominated kenya, really created the sort of tribalism,
putting all the different tribes in different reserves and different parts of the country. and so when they got independent and got power, there was this unfortunate sort of conflict for power. and they were basically, ever since 1963 can have been dominated by a larger tribes. and barack obama, sr. was a nationalist. he wasn't a tribalist. and when he came back to kenya in 1965 and started his career here, he's suffered because he was a little in many cases. i wanted to get the full context of the. furthermore, another character in the kenya part of the story and wrote a fascinating guy is named tomboya. it was really the intellectual leader. he was the major spokesman for all of the independent movement
in kenya before the brits left because always thought to be a possible future president of kenya. and he was very come and the cold war era, he was -- and helped him in many ways. he was also the patron of rock obama senior. it was largely because of tomboya that obama got to the united states. his whole reason that barack obama our president exists. it wouldn't happen without tomboya, who organized the airlift that brought the first england kenyans to the united states, and tomboya was assassinated in 1969. >> by? >> by, well, the presumption is that it was by people high up in the leadership who are afraid he would become president in a power struggle but it was never clearly established but the man who was tried and hanged at his
assassin, some his last words to why didn't you go after the big man, meaning somebody who organized this whole thing. so that assassination also fueled barack obama, sr.'s frustrations, fueled war of the tribalism that created problems ever since. >> when you talk to folks about barack obama, sr., a term that keeps coming up, and i might, this might be misleading but if you would answer, politically connected and political intrigue. >> well, barack obama, sr. was trained as an economist your both at university of hawaii where he went to undergrad, and at harvard, where he left before he got his ph.d, but did quite a bit of study there. and he was a fairly brilliant macroeconomist.
but his rise in all of his movements within the government in nairobi, over the ensuing decades, was filled with political intrigue and frustration. and after just doing five days of interviews in kenya, three in nairobi and to out here, my mind is spinning with all the intrigues that i've heard. i have heard one story after another of the manipulations and death threats, and people losing their jobs because of tribalism, of some other sort of move for power. and barack obama unavoidably was caught up in that. spent another 10 that is come up is alcoholic. >> i think that barack obama, sr. definitely had a drinking problem.
many of the people that i've interviewed have called an outright and alcoholic. some of his family members who were reluctant to go that far just say he drank a lot. but he certainly, there were a lot of occasions where, many of the people i interviewed said that he loved his double bubble. a double with double scotch, and would drink at any hour of the day, and that it really didn't affect his life. they attributed in part to just, you know, and alcoholic is a generic thing, but also the frustrations that he had over the years because of his family life and because of his job, employment, ups and downs, just exaggerated. >> womanizer. >> i've heard -- everybody has says two things about barack obama, sr. one is that he was an excellent
dancer, and another was that he loved women. i don't think toward womanizer actually is used in kenya in the same way that it is in the united states. partly because much of kenya is a polygamist culture. the tribe from which he came are definitely part of the polygamist culture. his grandfather, onyango obama, from what we've been told over the last few days, and perhaps as many had -- had asked perhaps as many as 15 watts. barack himself had -- >> barack sr. >> barack sr. had four wives, but not all at the same time. he had at most two at the same time. he divorced two of his american wives at different points. but he also had many other women and was, yeah, there were -- the
word womanizer to me, i've never felt comfortable using it. he definitely had a lot of women in his life spent what about his children that may not be no? >> i have no idea. and that is not really come up, except one key guy we interviewed sort of joking about there might be children scattered all over western ken kenya, but he had, from his four wives, he had eight children, and that's really all i could confirm spent of those eight, did any of them talk to you? >> well, not yet. and it's really interesting situation within the obama family. there's a lot of frictions going on. they don't all get along. some of them will imply that they want some renumeration for
it. others asked to be protective of the family. so i've interviewed a lot of people that we haven't talked to before, but the actual half brothers and sisters, we will see, maybe tomorrow. >> you have been asked in many different ways for renumeration by some people you interviewed here in kenya. is that comment and how do you handle it? >> it's not common in this state, and it's really a fascinating -- i don't know if it's a dilemma for me, but i've had to think about a lot of different things, including cultural values, but patients, what they're giving up to talk to me, and what it means to them and what it means in the culture. you know, at the "washington
post," traditionally had the strongest ethics rules you could ever imagine where we give back a christmas gift, couldn't accept anything. our editor for a couple of decades went down, he didn't even vote. you know, pure and pristine. i myself am always had very strong personal ethics, but i'm operating in a different culture here. so i've had to make a few interesting decisions. a few months ago someone i wanted to interview before i got here, an elder in a little village, said he would talk if we got him ago. in that village, when you visit with you visit without elder you're expected to bring a gift. so it wasn't my paying to talk to them. it was my paying him to visit. and i debated for a while and
i.c.e. agent, it costs about 60 bucks. and yesterday and today there's a situation where people have left work to talk to me. i've made up for that difference. we've gotten a few photographs, you know, because to get the photographs, is totally within bounds. i've been hit by publishers for $1000 for a single photograph. why can't i pay some poor kenyan 100 shillings for one? you know, it's been that kind of situation. >> you've been to already to hawaii, kansas, texas doing your research for this book, and now you're in kenya. when does the research part of it and? >> you know, you just know when you get there. i mean, you don't know. actually the research and never ends.
i will be researching until the day i finished the book. but there is a point where i said okay, i'm ready to start writing. and i started this book essentially the day after obama was elected president. that's what i decided i've got to do this book. i had written a few pieces for the "washington post" before that, so i had some basis of research, particularly on his mother. and i think that when i get home from this incredible kenyan journey, i'll have the kenyan and kansas side of the story pretty much completed. and that's when the story begins, interweaving to incredible different worlds that helped create this person. >> who came up with the title of this book? >> i did. just bouncing around, out of africa, and then i said will come out of africa, out of
hawaii, out of kansas, out of indonesia, out of chicago, out of this world. and so, the book is two things. it's the world that created obama, and then how he re-created himself. so the first -- i'm not sure of the proportions yet, and it will be important for me to get it right, perhaps even the first half of the book, or not quite that much, the main character isn't even on the stage yet. and then the second half of the book is largely in chicago, was also education, california, new york, boston thrown in some. largely chicago, and that's when he re-created himself as a political being. and so, when you think about it, we all are sort of created from a lot of different strengths but
i can't give anybody with a more fascinating mix than obama. >> tell us about your team here in kenya spent i can't tell you how happy i am about the people i'm working with. you know, i don't know what healy. i don't know luo, which is the mother tongue of this part of kenya. swahili is the national in which although most people speak english. they all don't. and they drive on the other side of the road year. and i think i would've been dead in the first day if i tried to drive myself, plus there are no road signs. the places we've gone i couldn't have done in a million years, and i'm pretty good at finding things. so i definitely needed a great driver, and we got one. is more than a driver. he's a friend and an interest in politics, a great guy. i needed somebody on the ground
to help set up the interviews and help me get documents from the kenyan national archives and elsewhere. and i lucked out and got 10 or paula who is 40 years old, one of the great investigative journalists in kenya, a very tough, straightforward, smart, savvy, politically instinctive, guy who has helped me immeasurably who also does some interpreting of the swahili for me. and then i have beatrice of fellow who is a graduate student at the university of wisconsin, and last summer when i needed some documents translated into english, my wife and i live in madison and summers we went to university and to give any traneighttraneight een speakers are, and there was one, beatrice. should come over to my house in
after an intensive for them and then i discovered that she would be here, right now when we're going to come to kenya, and that her family is from -- about 10 minutes from -- one of the obama homes. and so beatrice has been our interpreter, today and tomorrow. >> is this -- >> another member of our team, too, linda, my wife who came along. >> has she been on a lot of your trips? >> since -- she was an environmentalist, terrific environmentalist who retired about seven years ago, and has gone on almost every major to i've taken since then. i'm not a grump or anything but i seem like one compared to my wife who is the best ambassador any person could ever have.
so she makes friends were ever we, and really helps pave the way for me. >> we're going to get to her but i have one question before that. which is, this is not a cheap trip. >> right. >> you, number one, had to get over your. you have three people on staff the whole time for a number of weeks. you've been to kansas, hawaii, et cetera. does an author's advanced cover all of us, or just a portion? >> well, i can't speak for every author, and this is my 10th book, and i get enough of in advance to pay for all of this work and i have -- i have my own, as an author i have a corporation which is me and linda, and so that has funds that i can use for all of this stuff it and they do spend, i
mean, why do it if you're not going to do it thoroughly? and i couldn't, i couldn't have done this trip without that kind of a team put together. so, you know, it's not like you get an advance and then go spend it on invitation. a lot of it goes into the book. >> the family connection, the obama family connection, as a passive observer, my head is spinning. i don't know who is who. spent okay. that's going to be a challenge for me, too, and this book, for a couple of reasons. one, it's a fairly complicated family web, and the second reason, which is unavoidable is that kenyan names, read by readers in the united states, can sound, you know, different and harder to remember who is who, et cetera.
so i have to be able to deal with that, and that's a challenge for any writer. and i found some ways i've done in the past, and you know essentially what's important to me is not quoting somebody. when you write a long narrative, you are not putting together a string of quotes from this person said this and this person said that. you are building a narrative story. and so i will take elements from each of the people that i've interviewed, and them into a store that i tell. so some of them will appear and some of them won't. and they will appear in ways that the family tree will become understandable. but you're right, there are different, you know, there's a whole obama plan down in one section, you know, the kendu bay area and there's another one which the united states knows
better in a larger district. that's where mama sarah lives who is obama's stepgrandmother, from -- they're not even blood relatives but she's the one that everybody goes to visit, as one thinks that's where the obama's are from. there's a whole nother group of obama's that i'm going to deal with, probably in a more substantive way than mama sarah in terms of where the story really council. it reminded me a little bit of what us doing the clinton book and what people thought was, because he said it, you know, in clinton's convention acceptance, they rent a film, the man from hope it everybody thought he was from hope, arkansas, this little small town and so forth in arkansas. the simplicity of rural life. and, in fact, he was in hot springs, a completely different place. much more complex and it had a
darker side to it. so the obama story is what people do so far is mama sarah and the real story of barack obama, sr. and his father takes place somewhere else, down in kendu bay. and that's where the africa section of this book will start. >> final question. do you want to introduce our viewers to -- [inaudible] >> leo, you could not make up. he belongs in some kind of african novel. he is 73, he walks around with this menacing sort of club. he's got a deep, rolling voice and laugh, and he seems to know everybody in africa. from the former president of tanzania to idi amin, the dictator of uganda back in the
'70s and '80s, the everybody in kenya. and he traveled with us. we met him yesterday, had three or four hours of fascinating discussion, and then he traveled with us today, in the morning. and he, he was very close to barack obama, sr., and to obama's patron, tom mboya, and knows all of the political intrigue of kenya, and a lot of the personal promise and flaws of barack obama senior. spent was he valuable? did you have to listen carefully to what he said? >> well, it was not easy -- likely, this is the other key thing. you can't, you can't go on a trip like this unprepared. so i have spent months studying kenyan politics, learning everything i could about tom mboya, going to an archive at
the university in syracuse that had the kenyan national archives, a lot of information i got from there. and i really knew a lot of the background. if you just had a conversation cold with leo, you wouldn't have understood a word he said, but i knew where he was going. i knew a lot of the beginning of the story, and so yes, i could piece it together and it building 100 holes for me. both in terms of the politics end of obama senior's personal life. >> last question. be found and went to the house that president obama stayed at in 19 -- >> eighty-seven. spent where was it and we will show the video. you look really excited about this. >> that's one of those moments that i described when i started this interview where you just a man, i am right here.
this is an incredible place to see and get to. impossible to find just out of the blue. it was in was called the obama clan compound, in a little teeny sort of, well, they'll at your compound -- village or compound in kendu bay, probably an hour and a half from the city of kisumu, and it's just another one of those small huts, really. it now had a floor but we were told when obama slept there it was assuming, it was just rolled my come and he spent two nights there when he was visiting the area in that part of the obama client on his journey through africa, his first ever trip there. and just to think that, i mean,
it's not like i -- it has nothing to do with how i feel about obama. and really, i don't put the book that way. each is the main character of my book. it has nothing to do with whether i like him or dislike him. it has to do with the history of seeing this little place before anybody knew who the hell barack obama was. you know, he was 26 years old making that first journey back to a land that he had never seen before. and i was looking at this little hut on the floor where he slept those nights back in 1987, and just kind of come it didn't overwhelming that it made me realize that, to see history is so much more powerful than just sort of think about it or read about it. i mean, i'll be able to portray it, but to see it brings alive
to me so it brings my work to a life. >> host: that interview was shot over two years ago. anything you would like to change? >> guest: i'd like to change my looks, first of all. and my voice. but there are a couple things that have changed since then. one is the title of the book. and, we determined that out of this world, even though it was meant -- the fact he was a global figure, to easily leads to double entendres or lead to something else. so scrap that. and my publisher actually came up with the brilliant idea of saying call it the story. so that's what we did. i'm very happy of that. there some other elements that are to the light and the book in the book and place why didn't expect him because i got so much rich information about a 10 year period from the time he left honolulu to go to college until he finished his organizing to go
to harvard. it was so important in terms of the evolution of his search for identity, that it really be kicking -- really became the last third of the book. it ended earlier than expected and will be another volume someday, but this is the book that upsets me now. so -- that obsessed me now. >> host: so the book ends instead of 2004, in 1989, as he is going off to boston, correct, the harvard law school. >> guest: yes. >> host: so to barack obama is finally going to make and appeared in your book. is this about halfway through the book? >> guest: not halfway. it's 164 pages into it. >> host: we get to hawaii.
again, how did his parents meet? >> guest: well, his mother was 17. she was a freshman at the university of hawaii. >> host: i apologize to take it one step back. how did she get to hawaii? >> guest: she got to hawaii because her father, put in a furniture salesman in mercer island, or in seattle, washington, he got a job selling furniture in honolulu. and he was always looking for the next thing. principally moved west. from california to california. to seattle and then from seattle to hawaii. and so she came along with the family. she was only 17 and she graduate from high school, and actual public school in seattle post might only child. >> guest: and she was the only child. her name was stanley in. his name was stanley. i can tell you the story about some other time. in any case, so she is there.
barack obama has been there since 1959. also an undergraduate, even though he was much older. and they both happen to sign up for a beginning russian class. this was right after sputnik and schools all over the country are starting to teach russian which was considered the most important thing public schools to do to prepare the u.s. for the cold war and the race with the russians. so they both ended up in the russian class and that's what i met. >> host: how long do they know each other before they got married? >> guest: they knew each other for five months. well, they met in september, they got married in february. she got pregnant before that. so it was him everything about it was -- you know, it was not a normal courtship, let me put it that way than with what were
madeleines and stanley's reaction to stanley ann bringing home an african? >> guest: well, madeline married another biographer -- madelyn died before i started this book. i did not interview her. david mandel who did the first obama both that said madeline described obama, sr. to him as very strange. and i of course interviewed everybody else around him. they were not happy. i won't say for five it is very difficult for them. it wasn't necessarily because of race. it had a lot of elements to. his personality, the of so much older and and that their daughter was only 17 when they had met and when she got pregnant. she was an incredibly intelligent young woman. so they had a very difficult time in life. they didn't know, but another
outlet to this whole thing was obama, sr. was, i know the family -- i was reluctant to use the word womanizer. but he was. so she was by no means the only american woman that he had been with, and he was trouble from the start. >> host: barack obama, sr. married four times. did they ever get divorced? >> guest: interesting. they got married in kenya, and in the luo coulter, according to obama, sr. come in that area you could just say i am divorcing my wife. when she married barack sr. and she did not know that he was already married. she knew that -- she was under the impression that he was
divorced, which he was not legally. in that sense he was a polygamist when he married her. >> host: and they married in 1961, and as you said in february, and legally married to an agency before. barack obama seemed was also married to rick baker. and then his final marriage was the jael. >> guest: a few years before he died of. >> host: how many children did barack obama, sr. into passing? how many half siblings does the president have? tragic i think in the speech part i said i didn't know. there were a couple of children -- i do want to get too far into that but i'm not sure. it could be as many as eight. >> host: back to hawaii in february 1961 barack obama, sr. and stanley ann gets me. the president is born in august 4, 1961. by the end of that first month of his life, and done has taken
him to seattle. >> guest: there's a lot of mythology so that they which is nothing to do with the birther idea of him being born in mumbai or some other place, which the book fairly documents to be completely fabricated, untrue. he was born in honolulu on august 4. as he would tell the story later in his own memoir, it wasn't until his father left for harvard that the family split up and even though the reasons are that not what he says in the book. but it's shortly after he was born his mother went back to seattle, extension courses at the university of washington. so they really never lived together. when i interviewed all of the people who knew barack sr. during this period that the universe of why before he graduated and left, only one person could even remember her at all. the others constantly never saw
her. there was industry, what was that? she was in seattle. >> host: how long was she in seattle? >> guest: about a year and a half. as a single mother, yes. she had babysitters and she went to school part-time. sort of got herself back together. that first semester at the university of hawaii have been through difficult because she got pregnant. so she had to sort of resume herself academically. she did at the university of all white, and then after barack sr. had left a wide to go to harvard, she and little barrie came back. >> host: 1962-1967 there were back in honolulu. who was her second husband? >> guest: per second husband was another international guide from indonesia. she had met him at the university of hawaii. he came there to the east-west center there, which barack, students from various asian countries to hawaii and brought
american-style of -- that's where she met him. he was a tennis player. he was very gregarious at that time, and she fell in love with little spin at what point did they move to jakarta? >> tragedy went back for. -- >> guest: he went back first. lolo could only stay for a certain amount of time. he kept trying to extend his these after he married her, and find ways to stay. so he got certain jobs that he said were related to his geography that he made, and typography in honolulu. eventually he was forced to go back in 1966 pick in 1967, in
october, barry obama and his brother moved back time and so the president lived in indonesia from 67-71, page six-10? >> guest: just about, yes. >> host: while you were in jakarta, david maraniss, you found a school where barack obama went to school. >> this is the elementary school where barry first attended school in jakarta. he knew no -- [inaudible]. in a few months was speaking the indonesia language.
>> is that his exact chair? [inaudible] spent and this is marty who was there, so he is our witness of the chair, right? so come where did very set? [inaudible] >> in the corner in the back? [inaudible] >> all, in the middle in the back. in front of the chairs? so the two people would be -- >> host: that school has a statute, david maraniss? >> guest: actually peter, the
statute is outside the second school he went to. little barry in shorts and short sleeved shirt. the second school had much more money than that first appeared the catholic school he went two for two nephews, and then the family moved. his father got another job working for union oil and got more money. >> host: was that put out -- >> guest: it was put up a couple years ago and is very controversial. there were people who didn't want that statute to go up. obama i think if he ran for president of either region would win in a landslide, but nonetheless everywhere in the world, there's some controversy about aid to abolish. now everybody in indonesia is very proud of its. >> host: what was life like in jakarta? >> guest: imagine being a six-year-old kid going to a place we didn't know the language or the culture, where you're just living in, you know,
sort of middle class, lower middle class section of town, and with narrow alleyways and exotic sounds of the big city of jakarta. with your mother going to work and your father riding a motorbike to his job, and just being thrown in with the neighborhood kids. and that was his life. he adapted. he had to adapt. and obama's life is a series of adaptations. >> host: why did he leave jakarta in 1971? >> guest: he left because his mother, by the way, there was an international school in jakarta. his mother goodness into -- his mother couldn't afford to send in there. for those three and a half years he was learning the native language. she was waking up at 4 a.m. to teach him with english schoolbooks before that to
supplement his learning. it was very difficult. the whole process is something that she -- she loved indonesia. she wanted to stay. but he was coming to a point where she had to make a key decision. it turned out that to get into the best elite private prep school in honolulu, so he went back in sixth grade. >> host: lived with his grandparents. >> guest: yes. they by that time had moved to an apartment, which were five blocks from the school, and he lived there from fifth grade to his senior year. >> host: so from ages 11-18 he lived with his grandparents in honolulu. >> guest: there's some subtlety. the period where his mother did come back to study graduate school at the university of hawaii. they let the couple blocks away
for about two years and then she went back to indonesia again. but the bulk of that period was with his grandparents. >> host: so that was 71-79 back in honolulu. >> guest: yes. >> host: what was his life like? what did he stay? what kind of grades did he get? >> guest: barry obama, by the way, -- his mother and lolo were separated and soon to be divorced. and he only took the name so we can be confusing, but he was always really barry obama. so his life was, he was a fine student. he was in a series of student by any means. he was smart enough to get by. more than get by with his grades without ever really applying himself to hard. his real love with basketball.
it's kind of an interesting twist that the one time he saw his father when barry was of a conscious age was went in honolulu when he was 10 and his father came back for three weeks and he gave him a basketball. at that time basketball was incredibly important to young barry. i consider it an important theme of his adolescence and his life because -- think about basketball. it was invented by dr. naismith, came down to kansas right at reinvented again. some of the great figures in basketball history came out of kansas. fog allen and even adolph rupp. obama's great uncle on his mother's side was a very good basketball to the but basketball is also a way that these young black kid could identify with
african-americans anyway that, living with his white grandparents. it was a state -- a city gain. i think that really is one of the central themes of his adolescence. >> host: you write in "barack obama: the story," barry could not know that perhaps the luckiest thing that happened to him and his young life is that his father had left. sparing his mother and him use of unpredictability and potential domestic violence. >> guest: well, i write that, i mean, it sounds sort of speculative but when you study the history of barack obama, sr., it's not. it's reality and it's a very difficult reality. and it grows out of what happens after. after he and and had a very short time together at harvard, he met another american woman. and just like in ann he knocked
her off her feet and she became entranced by them. she went back to kenya with him, to nairobi and married him. and i interviewed her. i was the first reporter to interview her. sally jacobs has written an excellent book on barack sr. interviewed her after me. that's the way these things go. and more power to sally and all these biographers who, after. the story moves on and grows deeper and deeper. but in any case when i talk to rick baker she told me the story of how abusive barack sr. was and he beat her and he was an alcoholic, and currently difficult man to be with. that would've been the fate of barry had he and ann stay together. >> host: while in kenya, we
talked to you about ruth baker and want to show just a little piece of it. >> where is she now? [inaudible] >> the interview is a little later. spink david, who is that? >> this is the fifth number of our team. lisa, an american who was in mumbai, who is also a writer. lisa has been instrumental in helping me connect the roots to barack obama seniors third wife
who is such an americanized. spent how she talked to the media? >> has never talked to anyone. she will talk to me on tuesday. at her school alone for several hours. this is one of the key interviews of the whole trip. spent if that were the only interview that you got over there, would that be worth coming over for? >> that is a tough question. very interesting. yes.
>> guest: thank you for giving lisa credit. she helped me find ruth baker. that was very important. in that interview, i'll never forget, the back of the kindergarten on the lawn for several hours and only supporting her heart out time after she married barack about and divorced him, she stayed in kenya. >> guest: she did. she married another african and took that name. and had two children by barack sr., and another by her second husband. she stayed the whole time. she is still very much a part of the nairobi community, and has run the kindergarten there for many years. >> host: 1964-1973 they were married. how long had she known him before she essentially with school and flew to kenya? >> guest: she finished school but she was teaching by that
point. she met him -- one of those very quick things. a couple of months. what she didn't know is that the reason he left cambridge and left harvard is because he was kicked out. they had enough of him. >> host: drinking? >> guest: drinking and women. they have been following very closely -- i want to go back to one little thing, just because the whole birther idea is so troublesome to me, and to any serious historian to the our ins documents that show immigration officials in honolulu tracing barack obama, sr. all of those days before and after. there's no way he could have gone anywhere else or ann could've gone anywhere else and had that baby. anyway, so he was kicked out of harvard before he gets his ph.d. yes to go back to nairobi.
he called himself doctor from then o on the even though he ner finished his dissertation. she followed him a few months later. she showed up in nairobi not knowing what she was getting into. >> host: back to your book, "barack obama: the story," you write what barack learn was devastating, disillusioning. >> guest: it's quite amazing to think about and done him -- ann done him and her dealings with her son, barack. and why she told him the stories she did, purely out of love.
she never said any word about barack obama, sr. because she didn't want to destroy this little boy who had enough other things to deal with in his life. i find it completely understandable why she created this mythology about him. year by year, as he grew, he started to understand, to some degree, that the reality have to be different from, from what he had been told. but it wasn't really until he got to kenya himself that he knew. >> host: in the introduction to your book, you write without dismissing the anger and confusion that he felt as he tried to sort out his identity, i would argue that they view him primarily through a racial lens can lead to the root causes of his feelings of outsiders and a misunderstanding of his responses to it. >> guest: well, this is not
any way to diminish in his world that takes place in his formation. essential. but there's another thing involved there, which is his search for identity, his search for homeland, a lot to do with race but distracted his whole life, involved in being left. you know, his father left, whether touching his father left before barry was conscious. his mother in essence, even as much as she loved him and inculcated her philosophy of life into them, she was gone for most of his informative adolescent years. so awful that come is universal in the sense, the struggles that he had were not just about race. certainly key to it but it's not, you can't look at his life and just view it through a racial lens than one in about 15
minutes we will begin taking your calls for david maraniss, who on june 19, will publish his 10th book, "barack obama: the story." we are getting a preview of the book tonight on tv. we will put up the phone numbers iif you would like to dive in ad start talking with come have question for all to please ahead and do so. (202) 585-388you can also send , firstname.lastname@example.org or you can ask the question via twitter. twitter.com/booktv. that will begin in 15 or 20 minutes when we will begin taking your calls. jeff cox, clasping of the president at his high school. here's a quote. this is jeff cox talking. barry had the ability to project cool it seems to me, that calm.
>> guest: you know, that's when he was 15, 16 years old. this guy talk but is clasping and you can see those characteristics today in his presidency. in that sense he hasn't changed all that much. there's a lot of reasons for that. part of it has to do with hawaii. as jeff points out, as a native hawaiian thing coolheaded maintain. no matter what else is going on, keep cool, man. that's sort of the sensibilities of barry and his buddies, who had, some of his buddies had what they called, basically basketball and smoking dope. unicom just be cool.
that's part of hawaii, part of barry's formative years, and he's always had that nature. now, another aspect to it is more developed and related i would say the politics, which is that in this country and all its racial dynamics and explosiveness, a black person wants to rise in politics -- [inaudible] unfortunate that she's part of the mandate of this country than with how much pot smoking did the president do? ..
>> host: when did barry become barack? >> guest: it was very gradual. i mean, it started with some people at occidental which was the college in los angeles that he attended for his freshman and sophomore years. and there were a few people there, an african student and one of the african-americans and some others who started calling him barack when they heard that was his name, and he sort of was starting to like so many college students do, they start to really go back to their, find their identity in college. and what he was searching for. but many of the occidental class mates called him barry, and even when he got to new york and columbia and those four years, some called him barry and some
called him barack. >> host: why did he choose occidental, and why transfer to columbia? >> guest: well, he chose occidental because he got a partial scholarship, and because he knew a lot of people that were going there. and the way he tells the story, there was some girl from brentwood that he met in honolulu he met before that who was in that area, so he got attracted to go for that reason. occidental was like the next step. it was comfortable, very beautiful, bucolic, small, contained, elite, um, and, you know, the california sunshine was just like the hawaii sunshine. so he was very comfortable. it was a very important two years. he really started to expand intellectually then. i think he got his first sense of destiny during those two years. but he left because it was too
much like hawaii. he wanted to experience the world. he was still on this arc of finding himself, and so it takes him from honolulu to los angeles to new york and eventually to chicago. but it was important to get to new york first. >> host: transfers to columbia. >> guest: starts his junior year. >> host: his first night in new york city, where did he spend it? >> guest: well, you know, he writes about this in his memoir, and i was a little dubious, but i interor viewed the people, and it turns out to be true. not that spending the night in that apartment would have been a bargain, it was pretty much a hell hole, but he couldn't get in. he couldn't get the keys, and he couldn't find the landlord. he was subletting it from a friend of a friend of his mother's. so he slept outside with his suitcase, and a person who later became his roommate said that barry had called him and, you know, finally came over there the next morning.
>> host: genevieve makes the scene in new york city. who's genevieve? >> guest: genevieve cooke, an australian whose mother married, second marriage was to a notable american, phil jesup. so the family sort of had american ties too. genevieve went to private high school in new york state and then to swarthmore and came to new york city and met obama after he'd graduated from columbia. today had a lot in common from -- they had a lot in common from the moment they met. they both had indonesian connections, her father and mother had lived in indonesia, he was a diplomat, so she had lived there, and some of that area in the late 1960s when young barry was there. she felt like an outsider
because she had, like many children of diplomats do, they don't feel connections to any place. her family was in the upper crust, but she never felt connected to that. and so she and barry both -- or barack, i should say -- both had this connection as outsiders with indonesian connections as well. and, um, so they became lovers, and she was his girlfriend for quite a while in new york. >> host: how did you get ahold of her? were you the first journalist to talk to her at length? >> guest: it took two years, and it was a very -- it just was hard work on the part of me and julie tate who is a fabulous researcher at "the washington post" and gabriel banks who was my researcher, um. she was living in los angeles. and the three of us triangulated everything, and eventually i
found her. and, um, i can't tell all of that story because to protect her not because of the book, but because of had an abusive ex-husband that we don't want to find her. but in any case, she's thousands of miles away, and once we started with just the name genevieve, verge hi i found a -- eventually we found a wedding announcement in "the new york times" that just rang a lot of bells because it had indonesia in it, it had northwest connecticut in it, and obama in his memoir or writes about a new york girlfriend taking up to her family's estate and the pond in this wealthy area that sounded like connecticut. so everything sort of hit with me, and then through studying some court records e found another name -- i found another
name for her and tracked her down and made the call, and it took -- we had had a lot of conversations since then. >> host: you write in your book, and you're quoting benod mahmoud, a columbia university class mate of the president: to be honest, he never had many black friends. in >> guest: beenu mahmood was one of a group of pakistani friends that obama had. he made friends with several pakistanis who came to
occidental, and today shared with him sort of an internationalist perspective which he had because he'd live inside end please ya, and his mother was there, and he was neither black nor white in some sense, and he was searching for himself, and he was comfortable with these guys. and so when he got to new york, some of his pakistani friends had moved there, some of their friends were already there, beenu was already there, he was at columbia law school and very astute guy. and it's true, i mean, obama moved to new york ostensibly to be closer to harlem and to find his blackness, but it didn't happen there. and president obama when i interviewed him in the oval office acknowledged he made no lasting african-american friends during his four years in new york. but he was starting to make that transition in his long, the arc of his search for home. and that change was starting to happen, and beenu very
perceptibly saw that going on, and it eventually took him to chicago. >> host: why did the president stay in new york after graduating from columbia? >> guest: well, he wallet withed to get into community organizing. he was trying to get jobs wherever he could. he actually applied for a job in chicago. he didn't get anything. so the best he could do was stay in new york. he didn't want to go back to honolulu. he didn't have any place else. so he stayed there, and as he put it, he would try to make money for a year or so. so he got a job at sort of a magazine/consulting outfit called business international, um, for about a year. and he really didn't like it there. it was sort of in the business world which held no interest to him. that's the period when he and beenu talked a lot and also the period when he met genevieve. >> host: so, david maraniss, this could go back to the quote
that we started this program with, no life could have been more the product of random canness than that of barack obama. chicago became random, the fact that he got to chicago? >> guest: well, i wouldn't quite call it random. because the election of harold washington as the first african-american may or your of chicago -- mayor of chicago was very attractive to him. and chicago was kind of the place to be at that point. as i write in the book, within a six month period three people arrived in chicago; oprah winfrey, michael jordan, you know, came to the bulls during that period, oprah was about to start her show, and then barack obama who came anonymously and, arguably today is the most famous of those three. >> host: jerry killman, a chicago community organizer, you quote him: obama was one of the most cautious people i've ever met in my life.
>> guest: now, that sounds a lot like president obama too. i think that this some ways -- that in some ways that characteristic can be invoked throughout his life and career. but, you know, as a community organizer on the south side of chicago the whole notion, the whole training method for community organizing was to take action, to confront power. power does not exist in a vacuum. you have to, you have to seize it. and he was dealing with the powerless, the poor people on the south side of chicago. and kellman who was one of of three or four of his mentors or bosses during that period, all of them essentially said the same thing, that barack was sort of a different sort, you know? he was looking for ways to not confront, but achieve in other ways. and so that could be very frustrated -- frustrating at times, but it also helped him
get where he wanted to go. >> host: while he was there what was the president's life like? where did he live? >> guest: he lived in hyde park which is a community near the university of chicago, a part of chicago that is the most integrated part of the city of a city that is notorious and perhaps the most segregated big city in the united states. that's what the kerner commission called it in 1959 and still was true to different degrees in the late '80s when obama got there. hyde park was a pocket of integration. so he was comfortable there. and he would spend every day going down to the south side which was 99% african-american, mostly poor, a vast, sprawling, bubbling, rich area -- i mean, rich in terms of the personalities, i'm sorry. which was where he really felt at home for the first time in his life. he was embraced by a group of older black women who sort of took him under their wing and
loved him, and, um, just created a sense or for him that he'd never felt before. and, but it was incredibly frustrating, you know? community organizing, you lose 95% of the time and just keep banging your head against the wall trying to get change done. and so during that period he both -- he became a community organizer, i would say, largely out of his mother's sensibility. you know, she had done organizing of a different sort in indonesia trying to help poor women, artisans survive in a male-dominated culture, um, and he, you know, her sort of beliefs were transferred to him. that's why he did it. but he also thought his mother was a little bit naive in terms of the power realities of the world. and during those three years on the south side, he started to see what power meant, how you get it and what he needed to really exert power, and that's what took him into politics.
so that's why my bookends there, because he's learned everything. he's found his home, which is in chicago. michelle not even in my -- is not even in my book yet in some senses. she is the magnet of the book because you see him eventually have to find that woman that's michelle. and he also figures himself out, his self-identity and what he wants out of life which is power, political power for -- and he needs to go to harvard to get the bona fides to come back to really get into that life. >> host: in the interview that you conducted with the president on november 10, 2011, you quote the president as saying there is no doubt that what i retained in my politics is a sense that the only way i could have a sturdy sense of identity of who i was depending on digging beneath the surface differences of people.
>> guest: many some ways that is -- in some ways that is another variation of what he said in the speech that made him famous, the 2004 keynote address at the democratic national cop vex in boston -- convention in boston where he said there are no red states or blue states, but the united states. and he sort of presented himself as the personification of that notion. his presidency has been a rude awakening -- [laughter] in terms of how far you can take that. and so he's been dealing with that, the promise and frustrations of that idea ever since as i'm sure we will both be experiencing when the telephone calls come for this show. >> host: so your book ends in 1939, "barack obama: the story." you said there is another volume coming? >> guest: well, i didn't want to get committed to 40 years of robert caro who is one of my heroes, so i've sort of kept
that on the down low, but i have every intention, and i've done a lot of reporting of the later years which influenced this first book even though they're not in it. so, and i don't want to do a quickie. i don't write my books for the politics of the moment, i try to write them for history. there are a lot of documents that will be coming out later, and i want to be patient. >> host: book ends 1989, but at this point barack obama so far, 1961 born in honolulu, '61-'62 lived in seattle, '62-'67 back to honolulu, then to jakarta, indonesia '67-'71, back to honolulu, '71-'79. los angeles, '79-'81 while he attended of course si department call, then he moved to new york for columbia, 1981-1985, and chicago for the first time 1985 to 1989 then off to harvard law school. two more pieces of the book i
want to ask you about because we want to tie these stories together. >> guest: yeah. >> host: now we're in 1939, where's his father -- 1989, where's his father? >> guest: his father's dead. he died in 1982 in a car accident driving home drunk from a sort of a makeshift bar area near the nairobi hospital to his fourth wife's house. and when we were in nairobi, we saw the street and the area where that traffic accident occurred. it was almost sadly inevitable. he'd been in many very serious accidents, drunk driving several times in his life already, and that one took his life. >> host: his grand apartments, are they still alive at this point and his mother? >> guest: yes. all three are alive. stan dunham dies first in the early 1990s, then his mother dies right before his book comes
out which is -- >> host: "dreams from my father." >> guest: the first it ration of that book in 1995 of uterine cancer at age 52, i believe. so she never got to see his political career at all. and then madeleine, the grandmother, in many ways the strongest figure in his life, the steady one, um, died a few days before he was elected president of the united states. in november of 2008. >> host: two more quotes from barack obama: the story. by the time barack had reached chicago when maya was in the tenth grade, their grandfather had retired after 20 years in the furniture his and another 20 selling insurance.
and the grandmother, you know, i'd done a lot of reporting about the grandmother and what a rock she was in the family, and president obama acknowledged to me during my interview in the oval office that she, too, was an alcoholic. and the both of them are fashion meating characters. i mean -- fascinating characters. i mean, the grandfather is, you know, without the tragic ending of willie lohman is like death of a salesman. he's got all those big hopes, starting with the very moment that the two met when stan told madeleine that he had been to california and new william and john steinbeck and was going to be a writer. and they had all of these things, writings that he'd done in his trunk, and then madeleine's brother later went into the trunk, and there was nothing there. that's sort of the, you know, the fantastic life of stanley dunham. >> host: willie loman? >> guest: and madeleine, you know, had these greater
ambitions. >> she, you know, her role model was bette davis. she wanted to be sophisticated, and can the moment she marries stan dunham, she realizes she's the one who's going to have to carry the load in this relationship. of she was incredibly dependable, um, and was, you know, rose to the office of vice president of a bank in hawaii. president obama when i interviewed him described them as characters out of "mad men" which i found really interesting, and he said testifies a deslow today of that very popular hoe and that his -- show and that his grandmother madeleine was like peggy who rises from being a secretary to one of the great ad people in that show. so, you know, he's -- it wasn't always easy for barry as a teenager to live in that family, but he never felt unloved by either of them. and interesting, stan who was
the more problematic of the two really adored him and showered as much attention on him as he could even though he was trouble in other ways. and madeleine was always there for him even though she was not a very emotional person, she was not a hugger or a kisser, she wasn't the type who would say i love you barry or maya or any of her grandkids of that sort. theyshe was the pragmatic one. >> host: we have been talking with david maraniss, author of "barack obama: the story." this is his tenth book, and now it's your turn if you would like to call in or e-mail or tweet. the numbers are up on the screen. the e-mail address, email@example.com, and the twitter handle, twitter.com/booktv. david maraniss, we'll begin taking those in just a minute. david maraniss, in your book you reference "dreams from my father" quite a bit and either rebut it or support it. here's a little bit from president obama in 2004 talking
about his autobiography. >> you know, i just had an appearance on charlie rose, and, you know, he was asking me how does, how does the book connect with your politics? and it's very clear to me that there's a direct line between the subject matter that's contained in "dreams from my father" and the type of politics that i aspire to. because, essentially, what this story is about is a boy born to a father from kenya and a mother from kansas in hawaii with an unusual name -- [laughter] who traveled to indonesia, came back, found himself in chicago working in some of the lowest income neighborhoods in the country, and then traveled back to africa. and somehow was able to weave
together a workable meaning for his life as an african-american, as an american and as somebody who's part of the broader human family. and that was not an easy task. it wasn't an easy task not because i did not have some enormous love from my family, i did. it wasn't because i didn't have people helping me every step of the way. i had that help. but it was because i found myself born astride a nation and a world that is so often divided, divided along lines of race, divided along lines of class, divided along lines of religion. and so we have this enormous, tragic history that all of us
confront from whatever our backgrounds are whether we're white, black, hispanic, asian, whether we're muslim, jew or christian. the notion that, in fact, in the words of a great writer who happened to win a nobel prize, william faulkner, he said the past is never dead and buried, it isn't even past. and i think that all of us are confronting constantly our history. we're confronting the history of slavery in this country. we're confronting the history and problems that arose as a consequence of colonialism. we're confronting those scars of violence and oppression and struggle and difficulty and hope not only on the larger canvas of history, but also within our own families. and for me it was not entirely
obvious how, in fact, i was going to be able to integrate and pull together all those different strands in my life. so part of my challenge growing up was to figure out how do i function as someone who is black but also has white blood in me, how do i function as somebody who with is american and takes pride and understands the enormous blessings that come with being an american but is also able to recognize that i'm part of something larger than just a nation state? >> watch the rest of this program online at booktv.org. david maraniss answers viewer questions and discusses his book "barack obama" for another hour. >> we're here with tim gay,
author of "assignment to hell." tim, why these five men during world war ii? >> guest: because they made such an incredible contribution not only to wartime journalism, but to the journalism that came after the war. if you think about it, all five of these guys made a profound contribution to the journalism that really defined our childhoods and our adulthoods. it's not just cronkite and not just rooney both who became so noted for their work with cbs, but biggert who really defined what print journalism was, leibling who wrote a great column criticizing the press and assessing the press' role in the new yorker and hal boyle who ended up when he finally retired from if ap in the early 1970s
to have written more words for that great wire service than any reporter in it history. >> host: so all five of these men were in the war theater, in the european and pacific theater? >> guest: yeah, they sure were, and they were together. cronkite, biggert and rooney at very tender ages covered the air war against nazi germany when that was about the only meaningful action going on in the european theater against hitler. so from december 1942 for about the next year, cronkite and rooney, biggert were together almost every day covering the bomber boys and their, you know, incredibly brave missions over nazi germany. they were among the first handful of reporters allowed to fly along on a b-17 and b-24 bombing mission over germany which they did in february 1943 very early on. they were three of the charter members of what's known as the writing 69th, the fraternity of
reporters trained by the 8th air force to fly along on bombing missions. >> host: how much experience did he have going into the war? >> guest: very wet behind the ears. cronkite was basically a fuzz and was guy, and boyle had only a little more experience than that. rooney had never written a real news article in his life before he joined stars and stripes in the fall of 1942. biggert was, basically, a metro desk, city desk reporter for the new york herald tribune that had never really distinguished himself. of the five the only one with real credentials at the beginning of the war was a.j.leibling, and even he was basically a failed newspaperman. he found his niche at the new yorker writing essays. but all five of them, all five guys found themselves, and i think really defined journalism for america, during the war.
>> host: if they had been older, more established, would they have been in the theater? >> guest: um, yes. i mean, for the most part the guys who were assigned to the european theater were young like cronkite, rooney and all the rest, but there were some experienced reporters as well. but, um, i think what they experienced, the way they were able to capture it, the way they were really part of the greatest moral crusade in history defined their lives and defined their careers. >> host: you think about walter cronkite, doug brinkley just recently wrote a biography on cronkite, and he talked about his reports from vietnam during his evening broadcast. cronkite and rooney and the rest, did their, did world warl #-r shape their later journalistic career? >> guest: yeah, it sure did. and i think the reason cronkite was able to go to vietnam with some depth and some credibility is that he had experienced world war ii and then later korea fro